New road and highway expansion projects, including those in areas affected by naxal violence and the far-flung north-east region, are likely to be hit in the next five years.
The Planning Commission has indicated a likely pruning in the allocation for the central road sector in the 12th Plan (2012-2017). The road and highways ministry had estimated a requirement of approximately Rs. 5 lakh crore for the sector during the 12th Plan.
But citing resource constraints, sources said the plan panel is likely to cut the estimated requirement by up to 40%. In the 11th Plan (2007-2011) the outlay for the road sector was Rs. 1.92 lakh crore.
Concerned over this, road minister CP Joshi has written to both finance minister P Chidambaram and the Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia last week stating that a miserly allocation would impede the ministry from taking up new road expansion projects planned for the next five years.
“Following indication that the plan panel might cut down the allocation, the road minister decided to flag the issue before a final decision on how much each sector will be allocated for the 12th Plan is taken. The 12th Plan document is likely to be finalised soon,” said a ministry official.
During the 12th Plan period, the road ministry intends to upgrade 20,000 km of single-lane roads to two lanes. It has also planned to build 8,000 km of two-lane roads spread over 34 districts, which are affected by the naxal violence, at a cost of Rs. 10,000 crore.
“If the allocation is reduced, we will have no alternative but to drop these projects that we had earlier proposed to take up during the 12th Plan period.
This also includes road development in remote tribal and backward areas for which the ministry had proposed to spend R50,000 crore,” said a ministry official.
Some of the other projects that will be shelved include the port connectivity programme, which would have linked over 30 minor ports, airport connectivity and an ambitious scheme to develop roads on a pilot basis in some of the industrial corridor along the proposed Delhi Mumbai Industrial Development Corridor.